K2 is the second tallest mountain on earth at 28,250 ft. While not quite as tall as the more famous Mt. Everest, K2 is a more dangerous climb. In 1938, mountaineer and medical student, Charlie Houston, led an expedition up the mountain looking for a route to the summit. They came close. In 1939 another attempt was made by a team led by Fritz Wiessner. This expedition turned tragic before reaching the summit. Then in 1953, fifteen years after his first expedition, Houston led another team, determined to reach the summit, all without the help of oxygen tanks that are used in these expeditions today.
This book reads like an adventure novel, but it’s all true. Describing in detail the efforts of the climbing team and native Sherpas and porters to carry several tons of equipment and supplies up the mountain, establishing various camps along the route, will have your heart pounding. As the men push their bodies to the limit at high altitudes, you will find yourself gasping for breath. Short on supplies, breathlessness, injuries, falls, frostbite, 80 mph winds and blizzards will have you shouting at them – TURN BACK!!!
First in a series, this book probably doesn’t need much introduction since it has been made into a movie that aired on Netflix. But just in case… Lara Jean, the middle of three sisters, has had some crushes - five, to be exact. She wrote love letters to all five, pouring out her heart, but never mailed them. When the letters mysteriously get mailed, suddenly Lara Jean’s life gets complicated, especially with neighbor Josh, her sister Margot’s boyfriend, and Peter, the popular jock. This is a fun, romantic comedy that will leave you wanting to read the remaining two novels in the series.
High school senior, Emoni, is struggling to balance classes, raising her 2-year-old daughter, and working at Burger Joint. Emoni’s mother died during childbirth and her father returned to his native Puerto Rico, leaving Emoni and her daughter, Emma, in the care of his mother, ‘Buela, in Philadelphia. When a new elective for seniors is offered at school, Emoni signs on to take the Culinary Arts class taught by Chef Aydan. Cooking is Emoni’s passion. She takes recipes and adds spices and ingredients to make them her own, much to the displeasure of Chef Aydan, who insists his students first learn to follow recipes and take orders from a Chef without deviations. Despite a class trip to Spain over spring break and new class member Malachi, who has taken an interest in her, Emoni doesn’t think she can continue to work under Chef Aydan. Emoni has had to grow up fast. Will she make the right decisions for herself, as well as Emma’s future?
February 18, 1943 – Gestapo Headquarters. Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans are being interrogated in separate rooms. Sophie is worried. Are her lies matching her brother’s lies? Does Herr Mohr believe her? Does he really think she has no idea who distributed the leaflets denouncing Hitler and the regime? Can she pull this off? So begins a series of flashbacks telling the real story of Sophie, her brother, her friends and the White Rose group. At first, the young people in Germany believed Hitler would bring great changes to their country, giving them great opportunities. But as the years pass and the young people realize German youth are fighting and dying for a lost cause, Sophie and her friends believe they cannot sit idly by. Something must be done. This novel in verse tells the story of the real White Rose group and its very real members, young people who hoped to stop the atrocities being carried out by Hitler.
The first president of the United States was a slave owner. Like most southern farms and estates in the 1700s, George and Martha Washington depended on over 200 slaves to run their estate, Mount Vernon. Ona Judge was born on the Mount Vernon estate in 1773. Because her mother was one of Martha Washington’s house slaves, Ona learned those same skills – helping care for Martha through dressmaking, assisting with Martha’s appearance, accompanying Martha on social visits, and just being available to Martha 24/7. When George and Martha moved to Philadelphia after he was elected president, Ona went with them. In Philadelphia, she was influenced by the Free Blacks she met, those who had been granted their freedom from slavery in a city that was on the forefront of the abolition of slavery. For many years, Ona served quietly and faithfully, but near the end of Washington’s presidency in 1796, Ona learned Martha was going to “give” Ona to her granddaughter as a “wedding present.” Not wanting to be a slave to the snotty Eliza Parke Custis, Ona decided this was her only chance to take matters into her own hands and carefully planned her escape. This is a fascinating story of a courageous young female slave who dared defy the first President of the United States.
Eleven-year-old Viji cares for her younger, mentally disabled sister, Rukku. When their mother refuses to leave their abusive father, Viji and Rukku take off on their own for the city. The streets of Chennai, India are crowded, unfamiliar and dangerous, but when the girls team up with two homeless boys, Muthu and Arul, the four form a family of sorts, living on an abandoned bridge. They make their living scavenging the city’s multitude of trash heaps, selling their finds to the waste mart man. Living off the scraps of others in unsanitary conditions leads to illness and Viji has to decide who she can trust to get help for Rukku and Muthu. This story will tug at your heart strings when you realize this is still the real-life condition that thousands of homeless children face in India today.
Remember the Alan Gratz book your grade level read for summer reading? His latest book, Allies, published in October 2019, is the story of one 24-hour period in history: D-Day, June 6, 1944. We usually think about and hear and see the soldiers coming off those boats along the coast of Normandy, France, the bombardment they faced from the Germans, and the incredible loss of life when we learn about D-Day. But the invasion wasn't just getting up onto that beach. Many others were coordinating efforts behind the scenes with paratrooper air drops in the early morning hours, the French Resistance cutting telephone wires and blowing up train tracks, female news reporters and medics who tried to save lives on the beach, and so much more. Gratz weaves the stories of all these characters into his novel about the invasion, giving insight about all the events of that day. As a bonus, listen to Alan Gratz tell about these different events he researched in his own words.
Try this Hogwarts Digital Escape Room created by Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA. Suitable for Grades 5 and up.
Sepetys writes about those little-known periods of history that really should be brought to light. Her latest book is set in Madrid, Spain in 1957 under the rule of ruthless dictator Francisco Franco. The wealthy flood to this seemingly sunny land in search of a good time while life is anything but for most Spaniards. Eighteen-year-old Daniel has traveled from Texas with his parents, his father - an oil tycoon and his mother who is anxious to visit the country of her birth. Daniel’s father expects him to enter the family business, but Daniel’s passion is photography and he sets out to capture the heart of Spain in photos and win a college art scholarship. Ana is a maid at the Hilton Hotel where Daniel’s family is staying and is assigned to “serve” his family. Her father was killed and her mother imprisoned by Franco for working with the resistance movement. Trying to keep her head down, she needs this job to support her siblings, but she finds herself trying to help Daniel with his photography and eventually getting drawn into dangerous activities, losing her job. Mystery, the dark side of this period of Spain’s history, and forbidden romance all make this novel a delicious read for high school students.
The longest Muiriel has stayed in one foster care placement is eleven months. That was in 3rd grade, when the mom and dad wanted to adopt her. But Muir couldn’t stand being the only child in the house, which led to the inability to sleep, and eventually, a move to a new foster home. Since then, Muir has asked to leave a home whenever things have gotten too comfortable.
Now 17-years-old, Muir is taken to Francine’s, a 60ish-year-old woman who lives alone on an island thirty minutes from Seattle. Muir’s social worker, Joellen, asks Muir to try her best to last her entire senior year in this home before she ages out of foster care. Likewise, Joellen has asked Francine to take in just one more teen before retiring from foster care parenting. What will it take to keep Muir in one place for a year? And what can Francine provide that other foster parents could not?